Surrounded by rolling hills that form part of the Peak District in South Yorkshire, Sheffield is mostly known for the city’s role in the industrial revolution. Although it is still a major steel producer, there’s much more to the city than heavy industry.
Today, Sheffield is awash with green spaces and has a laid back atmosphere that belies its lively nature.
Live music is the city’s beating heart, and it has produced some popular bands including Pulp, The Human League, and Arctic Monkeys. You may also be familiar with Sheffield as the focus of internationally acclaimed music and literature festivals or where Doctor Who landed in series 11.
So pack your walking boots and your glad rags and get ready to dance your socks off.
Here’s why you should make Sheffield your next city break.
1Sheffield is The Outdoor City
Did you know that Sheffield is the world’s greenest city, with 61% of it being green space? Or that it contains more trees per person than any other city in Europe?
No wonder Sheffield has been nicknamed The Outdoor City. There is lots to see and explore here, and if you arrive by train, the first place to start is the Winter Garden. It is the largest urban glasshouse in the UK, where you can discover more than 2,000 plants from around the world.
The Winter Garden is also conveniently located next to the Millennium Gallery, a free art gallery showcasing Sheffield artists and currently featuring an exhibition called “Earthbound” that investigates humanity’s relationship with the environment.
Art fans should also check out the newly reopened Graves Gallery, which is currently displaying work by sculptor Mark Firth along with a new exhibition curated by pioneering artist Keith Piper and the “Pandemic Diary”, a series of drawings by internationally renowned street artist Phlegm.
2Getting active in Sheffield
With its hilly geography and plethora of parks, Sheffield attracts keen mountain bikers, runners, swimmers and climbers eager to explore the boulders and rocky crags of the Peak District. On 26 September, Sheffield will host their iconic Half Marathon and 10k runs, which zigzag through the city streets, with spectators lined up cheering the runners on.
If you prefer a slower pace, you can take part in the Sheffield Walking Festival this September, which offers more than 30 walking routes to learn about the city’s heritage and urban history.
The annual Photomarathon Sheffield, taking place each July, is always an adventure suitable for all ages, and a great opportunity to explore some of the urban trails. This year’s subject was the Sheffield Round Walk, a 15-mile route in the southwest of the city.
With artisan cafes, delicious street food markets, innovative restaurants complemented by a thriving craft beer scene, Sheffield is also a hub for foodies.
Check out Peddler Market on Burton Road, an outdoor food market with street vendors sporting names such as “The Cookie Mumster” and “Disco Fries”.
Kelham Island is a manmade island and former manufacturing site that has been converted into a series of indie restaurants, bars and artists workshops. It’s a bit of foodie heaven and home of the iconic ale trail, an absolute must for beer aficionados.
If you are feeling fancy, Joro, a restaurant influenced by nature, holds three AA Rosettes, Selected MICHELIN Guide 2021 and scores five in The Good Food Guide for its forward-thinking small plates and tasting menus.
4Festivals galore: the return of live events
Sheffield is not just a place for walking and noshing. Live music is a big part of city life, and now that Covid restrictions have largely lifted, events are popping up left, right and centre.
Returning with a full capacity venue, No Bounds will take place at Kelham Island Museum and Hope Works offering electronic sounds and music along with visual arts, poetry and workshops.
Musical lovers will be excited to discover that the stage production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will be coming back to Sheffield Theatres from April 2022. If you can’t wait that long, the film version will premiere in Sheffield on Friday 17 September, with a free display of costumes and props from the film with live dance performances and Q&A taking place from 17-25 September.
If poetry is more your jam, Off the Shelf Festival of Words is taking place from 15th to 31st October, launching with a live conversation with British author Lee Child. The festival will host a series of live events celebrating poetry including Black Women Write Now, focusing on black women’s voices, and fun family-friendly events every afternoon.
5Shop til you drop: Sheffield arts, crafts and clothing
Hedgerow Market is a vibrant street market with street food, live music and a variety of craft makers. The brand new market is located in the city centre and opens on September 18th from Midday to 6pm. Local traders include Gravel Pit, Nyoo Store and The Wood Enthusiast.
You can also get your craft fill at the Waterfront Festival at Victoria Quays, which incorporates culture and nature with entertainment and plenty of outdoor activities. As well as arts and crafts stalls, there will be stonemasonry workshops and free boat trips take place all day long.
Later in the year at the end of October, the city is supporting mental health charity Adira by hosting a week-long African-Caribbean market as part of Black History Month, which will see traders from across the country come to celebrate culture and diversity, with performances and events also taking place.
Disclaimer: This article was sponsored by Sheffield: The Outdoor City. Summer in the Outdoor City has been partly funded by the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the Welcome Back Fund project. This project builds on the existing Reopening High Streets Safely Fund (RHSSF). The project is receiving up to £1,040,000 of funding from ERDF as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.